They are also tied for first in the NFC North.
''I'm not certain what you've been accustomed to, but my goal was to change it,'' said coach Jim Caldwell, who is in his first season as Detroit's coach.
''I came in with the idea that we're going to try to make certain that this team is more about winning than about statistical milestones and I think that's the most important thing that you have to look at.''
Caldwell's hiring was expected to boost Detroit's passing game.
After all, he had coached Peyton Manning in the past, and the Lions had plenty of offensive talent in Stafford, Johnson and Reggie Bush. But Detroit's solid start to the season has instead been driven by the defense, which shut down Minnesota in a 17-3 victory Sunday.
''When I first arrived here, and I'm sure a lot of people in the past have thought - they always worried about the defense,'' said wide receiver Golden Tate, who signed with the Lions before this season. ''But those guys have been doing more than enough to win us games.''
Stafford has thrown for at least 4,600 yards in all three of his full seasons with the Lions, including a 5,038-yard campaign in 2011. He's surpassed 300 yards in a game only once in 2014, although his completion rate of 62.3 percent is the second-highest of his career, and he's thrown only four interceptions.
On Sunday, the Lions (4-2) managed only 255 yards of offense, but they had no turnovers, and their defense - ranked No. 1 in the league going into the game - paved the way to a victory.
This isn't the blueprint Detroit fans necessarily expected when Caldwell was hired, but it has enabled the Lions to succeed even without Johnson. The star receiver did not play last weekend.
''I've been places where we had a great offense and maybe our defense statistically didn't look so good, but the complementary work that they did together was outstanding and it led to wins,'' Caldwell said. ''If you can play defense and you're good and solid at special teams you're always going to be in the game.''
Without that imposing defense, the Lions would probably be a frustrated bunch right now. Johnson and Bush both missed last weekend's game with ankle injuries, and the kicking game has been a problem so far. Detroit is only 5 of 15 on field goals, and Matt Prater missed two of his three attempts against the Vikings in his first game after signing with Detroit.
''I feel good about Matt,'' Caldwell said. ''Couple tough situations, there was some pretty good wind out there. Not everything was perfect, but I feel great about him.''
The defense allows Caldwell to be fairly patient - with both the kicking game and the offense. Even ugly stats such as Detroit's 1-for-13 performance on third down last weekend can seem like minor issues in the aftermath of a road win within the division.
The Lions are tied for first with Green Bay - another team Detroit beat this season with a smothering defensive performance. The Packers managed only seven points against the Lions. Minnesota was nearly shut out while allowing eight sacks Sunday.
''All we've got to do is keep doing what we're doing,'' defensive end Jason Jones said. ''We're hungry this year. This is a great opportunity for us.''
NOTES: Caldwell said LB Kyle Van Noy could be ''a little bit more involved'' this week. Van Noy was put on the injured reserve-return list before the season after what was initially called an injury to his abdomen, and the 24-year-old rookie has not played.
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